Just a month ago I wrote a blog article about my fear that we prize our guns too highly in this country.
This week we had a two horrible shooting of young black men by a police officer. And then the another horrible shooting in Dallas in which a number of police officers were killed. Frankly I’m stunned by the violence, racism and bigotry I’m seeing in all of the events above.
We have so many issue right now to deal with as a nation:
Guns, guns and more guns!
It has become apparent to me that anyone, I mean anyone, can get a gun in this country. People on terrorist watch lists can get a gun. Mentally deranged individuals can get a gun. People who have been watched by the FBI can get a gun. Bigots and haters can get lots of guns. And you can get a gun faster than you can get a driver’s license, faster than you can get a marriage license in many places, and faster than it makes any sense at all. Isn’t it time to start asking why we are letting everyone in this country be armed to the teeth? Isn’t it time for a sane discussion on guns? How many mass shootings do we have to have for this conversation to lead to a change?
Racism is alive and well in the USA. The statistics are clear that if you are a racial minority than you are more likely to be harassed by law enforcement. (I’m not trying to attack the police here. There are thousands of fine police.) We have to face up to the problem that some racists have managed to become police and that the #blacklivesmatter leaders are crying out for change. As a nation we have not yet solved the problem of racism. We are not even close.
A Culture of Violence
Last night we had another mass shooting in which a number of police officers were killed in a ambush kind of attack during a peaceful protest. I woke up to the nightmare stories of fine law enforcement officers who were there to protect people, getting shot by an armed gunman. The story is still being told. But it is clear to me that we now have a culture were people have come to believe that the way to fix violence is more violence. We have people who tell us that we’d have less people killed if even more people had a gun. But that seems more like a way to turn every public venue into shooting gallery.
Religious Bigotry too!
And finally, we are also dealing with religious bigotry as well. Some people are spreading hate for people just because they are different or believe differently. Christians are going to have to come to grips with the fact that much of what many Christians say about LGBT people contributes to hate and violence. When you devalue people then you make them a target. This is true for race, this is true for sexual minorities too. LGBT kids are much more likely to be bullied in school. LGBTQ people are much more likely to be assaulted. And while we are worrying about bathroom politics our sons and daughters are getting gunned down. Then we miss the point and blame all Muslims for the actions of a few.
As Amos says in this weeks lectionary reading, God is holding up a plumb line to see if we measure up to God’s standards. Right now we have a culture to change. We need to convince the world that violence only begets violence. We need to share the grace of God with all people and share the love of Christ and remind people that that love is for all people. If we preach anything less than God’s love for everyone we are preaching a false gospel.